The case status for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, 31 Jan 2014

Yesterday’s appeal was an appeal of the original conviction. Both of Knox’s lawyers state the Supreme Court sent the case back to the appellate level. Knox herself admits this on her blog. The past acquittal happened at the appellate level.

The Supreme Court threw out the results of that appeal and sent the case back to the appellate level to re-hear the appeal of the original conviction. Yesterday, Knox lost her appeal, and her conviction was upheld.

Knox and Sollecito will now appeal to the Italian Supreme Court, which will need to affirm the ruling for the judgment to be considered “final”.

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Amanda Knox’s potential extradition and the irrelevance of “double jeopardy”

In recent months, many have speculated on a potential extradition of Amanda Knox if her original conviction is upheld by the Florence appeals court. Very few of these articles have looked at the case law in the US. There are many past cases that are similar to Knox’s potential extradition. Almost anything that has been said in Knox’s case has been tried before as argument against extradition. Multiple US courts have ruled against applying the US constitutional definition of double jeopardy in extradition proceedings. After a review of these cases one thing is clear- it is not only likely that US federal courts would rule that Knox could be extradited, it is also expected that they will.

What follows is a review of two of these cases and the similarities to Knox’s potential extradition.

One of those cases is the extradition of David Bloomfield and others to Canada in 1975. Bloomfield and his co-accused were indicted in Canada on drug charges. That case was initially dismissed, and Bloomfield et. al. returned to the US. Similarly, Knox and Sollecito were acquitted (in their case at the appellate level) after their initial conviction was overturned, and Knox returned to the US after that acquittal.

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The Amanda Knox trial information King 5 deliberately withheld from Seattle

Linda Byron co-produces “Amanda Knox: Her Life Now”

At the end of October, King 5 broadcast segments of an interview with Amanda Knox during their regular news reports. On November 5th, they ran a half hour special which was a mix of previously aired and un-aired footage. In each of these broadcasts, King 5 and their reporter Linda Byron frequently misreported on the case status and on the Italian court processes. In a follow-up email, a representative confirmed to me they made a deliberate decision to interpret the case in their own way! A copy of that email is in this post. Because King 5 deliberately decided to report on the Amanda Knox appeals in their own way, King 5 chose to withheld trial information from Seattle. The information that King 5 chose to withhold significantly alters the public’s perception on the case and on the fairness of the Italian court proceedings against Amanda Knox.

King 5 chose to report on the case as a “retrial”, which contradicts Knox’s own attorneys. Since the Supreme Court annulled the previous appellate court the case was sent back to the appellate level. The Florence appeals court is re-hearing the appeal of the original conviction.  This case status is confirmed in reporting from CNN.

Two of Knox’s attorneys, her primary lawyer in Italy and US lawyer Ted Simon, confirm the case is now at the appeals level.  Knox’s US attorney Ted Simon reiterated on CNN’s Shepard Smith show that the Italian Supreme Court sent the case back to the appellate level:

“The supreme court issued a revision, and they sent it back to a new appellate jury”
(Ted Simon, CNN, 11/6/2013)

Knox’s Italian lawyer reported to the Toronto Sun in April 2013 that double jeopardy does not apply, since this is a continuation of the same case:

Dalla Vedova said [its] not be a new case but rather a continuation of the same case on appeal.
(Toronto Sun, 3/29/13)

Since April 2013 we have known the case is back at the appeals level to rehear Knox and Sollecito’s appeals for the original conviction of murder. This is not new information. The US news media refuses to tell their audiences the truth.

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Representative Adam Smith stretches the truth in Amanda Knox “briefing”

ABC quotes Representative Adam Smith on the planned Amanda Knox “briefing to congress”:

“My office and I do the best we can to accommodate any Washington state groups or people who are visiting DC- whether that be coordinating tours, arranging meetings, helping to reserve a room,” Rep. Adam Smith said in a statement to ABC News. “The panel will address issues related to convictions of Americans abroad and international criminal law.

A spokesperson for Representative Cantwell had the similar language

“Our office regularly reserves rooms at the Capitol for Washington state groups — from shellfish growers, to the state AFL-CIO, to Boeing,” according to Cantwell spokesman Jared Leopold. “The discussion scheduled for this week will focus on international criminal law and wrongful convictions.

However, Representative Smith might want to check the  PR release for the originally scheduled session, as this briefing is the All Amanda show (along with an attorney for Raffaele Sollecito):

The three main speakers will be Judge Mike Heavey, a retired King County, Washington judge and co-founder of Judges for Justice, who will give an overview of the case and its legal considerations; Steve Moore, a retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent and criminal investigator, who will discuss the failures of the Italian police investigation and the evidence in the case; and John Douglas, a former FBI Special Agent, legendary criminal profiler and author of his most recent book, Law & Disorder: The Legendary FBI Profiler’s Relentless Pursuit of Justice, which includes an extensive analysis of the Knox-Sollecito case.
Also in attendance will be famed litigator John Q. Kelly, Esq., who has been retained to act as Raffaele Sollecito’s attorney/spokesman in the United States, and Mark Olshaker, a New York Times best-selling nonfiction writer, and Mr. Douglas’ co-author of Law & Disorder: The Legendary FBI Profiler’s Relentless Pursuit of Justice.
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Fox news gets a “D” for their misleading report

If ABC News fed the beast of American jingoism, Fox News provided the dessert. (Liberals in the US will hardly be surprised.)

Yesterday, I reported on the misleading report published by ABC News. Their report took seventeen (17!) paragraphs before they correctly called the latest “retrial” an appeal. But by the time ABC News talked about this week’s proceedings as an appeal, they already used the word appeal five other times referring to other things, which prevents any average reader from understanding that the current trial is an appeal.

Fox News does slightly better; they only take 16 paragraphs before almost describing the current process as an “appeal.” They don’t actually call the proceedings an appeal- they talk about the outcome of the current proceedings as an “appeal verdict.” Fox News also uses “appeal” or “appellate” five other times, referring to the first annulled appeals trial and ruling. Again, by the time readers gets to the paragraph that mentions an “appeal verdict,”  they have no basis for understanding what “appeal verdict” means.

Fox News also does slightly better in stating that the acquittal was overturned, but they follow the rest of the US mainstream media by referencing the acquittals ruling to create an interesting story.  A ruling that has no current legal basis in the proceedings in Italy, as it was tossed out by the Italian supreme court.

The processes going on in Italy is an appeal by Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito against their conviction for murder. It is NOT the third try to find them guilty. They have already been found guilty by the first court, and they are appealing that decision. The guilty conviction is provisional until all appeals are exhausted and the supreme court approves a final ruling.

In the United States, both state and the US supreme court toss cases back to the appellate level all the time.

Is Amanda Knox pressuring the US State department?

In October, 2013, supporters of Amanda Knox held an open house in the US congress, hosted by representatives from the northwest region. The congressional open house is being provided to the legislative branch of the US government. As has been reported in previous posts here, Knox’s options for fighting a potential extradition in the US federal courts in the judicial branch is very limited. The best explanation for such an action is one of political pressure- rallying support to pressure Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama to deny extradition (when and if it comes).

The process of extradition primarily occurs in the judicial branch of the US government; specifically in US federal courts.  US extradition courts do not try the case, so they will not weigh the merits of a defense. They will only consider an explanation for the evidence that is presented by the foreign country. This presumably excludes contesting the evidence, as that puts the court into weighing the merits of the case. Claims of a lack of “fundamental fairness” of the proceedings and/or outcome of the courts of a foreign country are also not considered in the realm of the extradition proceedings in the court, due to the “rule of non-inquiry.”

As for “double jeopardy”, Knox’s own lawyer reportedly has already indicated to the Toronto Sun that double jeopardy does not apply, as this is a ‘continuation of the case on appeal.’  The Toronto Sun also reports the comments from a legal expert that the courts have heard this type of double jeopardy defense in the past, and those claims have been denied. (It is noted that a Canadian news source has better reporting than the US media on the US legal system).

The judges in US vs. Kin-Hong, 1997 indicate that “fundamental fairness,” while a concern, is not within the purview of  the federal courts in judicial branch of the US government.  In the Kin-Hong ruling, the judges state “it is that there is another branch of government, which has both final say and greater discretion in these proceedings, to whom these questions are more properly addressed.” In practical terms- this is the executive branch, which of course is headed by the President of the United States. Specifically, this means the US State department.

Knox supporters have have stated that Knox has been railroaded, that this case is unfair, etc. Since the US federal courts will not review these issues, Knox’s best chance at avoiding a potential extradition is by having Secretary Kerry deny an extradition request.

 

Extradition’s “Rule of non-inquiry”

United states vs. Kin-Hong, 1997

“Another principle that guides courts in matters concerning extradition is the rule of non-inquiry. More than just a principle of treaty construction, the rule of non-inquiry tightly limits the appropriate scope of judicial analysis in an extradition proceeding. Under the rule of non-inquiry, courts refrain from “investigating the fairness of a requesting nation’s justice system,” id. at 1329, and from inquiring “into the procedures or treatment which await a surrendered fugitive in the requesting country.” Arnbjornsdottir-Mendler v. United States, 721 F.2d 679, 683 (9th Cir. 1983). The rule of non-inquiry, like extradition procedures generally, is shaped by concerns about institutional competence and by notions of separation of powers. See United States v. Smyth, [*111] 61 F.3d 711, 714 (9th Cir. 1995). n11 It is not that questions about what awaits the relator in the requesting country are irrelevant to extradition; it is that there is another branch of government, which has both final say and greater discretion in these proceedings, to whom these questions are more properly addressed. n12 “